A Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft that was reportedly ‘bought’ by a Nigerian ‘billionaire’, Igho Sanomi and his company, Taleveras Petroleum Trading DMCC, a Nigerian energy and services company was actually impounded by a bank which financed the purchase of the aircraft after Sanomi could not meet his own side of the deal, BigPen Online has exclusively learnt.
Sanomi had gone into a lease agreement with the aircraft’s owner, Challenger-Mondel which took a credit facility to the tune of $30 million from Credit Suisse, a swiss lender in February 2016 to finance the purchase of the Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft. The aircraft ascribed to Sanomi was leased to Taleveras, Sanomi’s company, at the verge of the termination of the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Documents show that this happened at a time Sanomi was already in the radar of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC which went on his trail to explain the source of his alleged stupendous wealth at a time they were also trailing his associate, former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison Madukwe. He was named in the US Justice Department assets forfeiture proceedings filed against Diezani Alison-Madueke, and her business cronies, Kola Aluko and Jide Omokore.
Taleveras, along with oil traders Arcadia and Glencore, were found to have paid $1.2 billion into Kola Aluko’s account in Switzerland, proceeds from crude oil lifted from Aluko and Omokore’s company, court document filed in Huston had revealed. He later denied and refuted the allegations.
Sanomi couldn’t meet his financial obligation to both Challenger-Mondel and Gama Aviation Ltd, the company that Sanomi’s Taleveras had appointed to manage the aircraft — according to court documents.
BigPen Online learnt that Sanomi who in 2016 went and “purchased” the jet beyond his reach under the so-called coordination agreement with the creditors is currently battling to pay the accumulated arrears of the jet leased to Talevaras. The fortunes of Taleveras started dwindling in 2016 just after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office and crippled “all those nouveauriche in the oil and gas sector” who were holding sway under former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. This, currently is affecting his financial obligations including his inability to pay his staff salaries and allowance for months.
Findings show that Sanomi, who is also the chairman, Dickens Sanomi Foundation Board of Trustees, a non-profit charitable organisation, is in court arising from claims by Credit Suisse AG which filed a claim at the High Court in London against Gama Aviation (UK) Ltd, an aircraft services company, demanding that the firm hand over the private jet to it due to default in payment of the $30million loan the Swiss lender granted Challenger-Mondel Ltd., to purchase the aircraft.
Gama Aviation (U.K.) Ltd. which Sanomi engaged to manage the aircraft for him had impounded it, claiming that under the terms of a so-called coordination agreement they were being owed in arrears.
The Swiss lender alleged that Gama, which specializes in providing chartered flights and other services to businesses and governments, has breached the agreement by refusing to deliver up the aircraft until Taleveras — which holds the jet on lease — pays it around $1.5 million that Gama claims it is owed for operating the airplane.
“On a true construction of the coordination agreement it is denied that Gama is entitled to exercise any lien over the aircraft or records against Credit Suisse for the reasons alleged by Gama, or at all or to refuse to deliver up the aircraft,” the bank said in its claim.
Credit Suisse lent $30 million to Challenger-Mondel in February 2016 to finance the purchase of the Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft, which was leased to Taleveras — the company that appointed Gama to manage the aircraft — according to court documents.
Credit Suisse says it is entitled to sell the aircraft after Challenger-Mondel defaulted on the loan. According to the bank, Gama agreed to ground the aircraft but has failed to comply with a demand it made in November last year to deliver the jet to the bank’s agent, TAG Aviation (U.K.) Ltd.
The bank claims it is in advanced negotiations to sell the plane and believes that a sale could be possible — but only if is completed before the end of January.
Gama contends that it is owed $1.5 million by Taleveras for services under an aircraft management agreement, and that it can keep the aircraft until all the money it is owed has been paid, which includes $400,000 that Gama alleges it is owed for the preservation, salvage and necessary repair of the plane.
“Credit Suisse has not given its consent to the exercise by Gama of any rights against the aircraft in respect of the failure by Taleveras to perform its obligations,” the claim alleges.
Gama is entitled to be paid only “sufficient funds” of around $5,000 to effect the return of the aircraft, not the amounts allegedly owed by Taleveras, Credit Suisse said, adding that it is willing to hand over that amount.
The bank also filed an aviation claim in the U.K. Commercial Court on Dec. 21 against Igho Charles Sanomi II, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of Taleveras, according to documents seen by BigPen Online.
Gama Aviation had since failed to release the grounded aircraft to Credit Suisse, claiming that t is entitled to keep possession of the aircraft until the bank pays around $1.1 million and $400,000 that the firm alleges it is owed, respectively, by the aircraft’s owner and leaseholder (Sanomi).
But Credit Suisse, which is suing Gama to gain possession of the jet after its owner allegedly defaulted on the $30 million loan, dismissed the company’s counterclaim in documents filed with the High Court in London on Feb. 28.
“It was not a precondition of Gama’s obligation to deliver up possession of the aircraft and its records … that Credit Suisse was obliged to pay the sums allegedly owed,” Credit Suisse said.
According to UK Law360.com which has been following up the case, Credit Suisse claims that Gama must return the jet and its records under the terms of a so-called coordination agreement with the bank; the aircraft’s owner, Challenger-Mondel; and Taleveras Petroleum Trading DMCC, a Nigerian energy and services company.
The bank alleges that Gama, which specializes in providing chartered flights and other services to businesses and governments, has breached the agreement by refusing to deliver up the aircraft until Taleveras — which holds the jet on lease — pays it around $1.5 million that Gama claims it is owed for operating the airplane.
Gama claims that it has always been “ready, willing and able” to deliver the aircraft. But the firm wants to be compensated for operating and repairing the jet on behalf of Challenger-Mondel and Taleveras.
Under a court order agreed to last year, but not made public until Jan. 8, Gama agreed to deliver up the jet and its records on condition that Credit Suisse paid the disputed amount into the court as security instead of Gama’s lien — a form of security interest granted on an item of property to secure the payment of a debt — over the aircraft.
The bank says that any lien Gama may have had against Taleveras was canceled once it held the aircraft.
“Had the parties intended that Credit Suisse should be the guarantor of the debts of Taleveras to Gama this would have been provided for in the express terms, but in fact the opposite is the case,” Credit Suisse says.
Gama also contends that it is owed around $42,000 from Credit Suisse for storing and maintaining the aircraft, which it says were services the bank would have had to incur in any case to maintain the value of the jet.
“Those services were carried out despite, and instead of, Credit Suisse’s request for delivery up of the aircraft and records,” the bank says. “Any services were voluntarily carried out by Gama.”
It was not clear if Sanomi’s Taleveras has become bankrupt resulting from the reported freezing of his bank accounts by EFCC hence he couldn’t meet his financial obligation to his creditors but a source close to him said he was still buoyant, adding that the transaction was just a business deal that went awry.
BigPen Online can report however that Gama may have either resolved or settled the litigation with Credit Suisse arising from claims against Igho Sanomi, and may have released the seized and grounded aircraft to the swiss lender to be sold to recoup their money.
Story by Julius Eras-Olabowu